Facebook says it will lift its Australian news ban and comply with new law

The Australian government has announced Facebook has agreed to lift its ban on Australians sharing news Credit: AP

Facebook has agreed to lift its news-sharing ban in Australia after a tense stand-off with the government over new legislation.

The social media giant blocked Australian users from accessing and sharing news last Wednesday after saying the new proposed laws were unworkable.

Why did Facebook block news sharing in Australia?

Like many countries in the world, Australia has seen a decline in advertising revenue for its media organisations which has hit small and large newspapers and broadcasters alike.

Much of the lost revenue has ended up going to Facebook and Google as their platforms have revolutionised humanity's access to information.

Facebook limited the ability of Australian news organisations to share their content.

On top of this Google and Facebook have been able to draw in customers because of the ability to share news produced by other organisations.

In an attempt to ensure media companies got a share of the money earned from this access the Australian government has proposed a law that would make Google and Facebook pay for any news they share on their platforms.

This caused protests from both of the US technology giants claiming it would be unworkable and claiming they did not make a lot of money from news.

Google has since stopped its protesting and has signed deals with various Australian news companies.

Facebook said the plan was unworkable and banned the ability to share news in Australia as well as limiting the ability to share Australian-produced news outside of the country.

What was the result of Facebook's ban?

Australian's woke up last Thursday to find they could no longer see news on their Facebook.

Facebook's ban did not just limit the ability to share information from traditional newspapers or broadcasters, but also from health and emergency services as well as smaller independent pages.

The action sent shockwaves around the world and unsettled a lot of government's (including the UK) who are looking at similar proposals.

Downing Street said it was “concerned” about Facebook’s decision to pull news content from its platform in Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Facebook had "unfriended Australia" Credit: PA

The Australian government doubled down with its legislation and Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Facebook's actions an "arrogant" move to "unfriend Australia."

Why has Facebook backed down?

The two appear to have reached an agreement over the legislation and the Senate will debate amended legislation on Tuesday.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook confirmed in statements that they had reached agreement on amendments to proposed legislation that would make the social network and Google pay for news that they feature.

“The government has been advised by Facebook that it intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days,” Mr Frydenberg and communications minister Paul Fletcher said in a statement.

Front pages of Australian newspapers are displayed following Facebook’s original decision to block news content Credit: Rick Rycroft/AP

Facebook said it will now negotiate deals with Australian publishers under its own model, Facebook News.

"We are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognise the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them," Facebook regional managing director William Easton said in a statement.

The changes mean the government may not strictly apply the new laws to Facebook if the company can demonstrate it has signed enough deals with media outlets to pay them for content.

The government has also agreed to give any company affected by the law a month’s notice to comply.